Some Children Can't Tell You What's Wrong
[Cross-posted from 4Life4Life Blog]
To Moms and Dads of babies, and children getting old enough to know right and wrong.
"My kid doesn't have Autism or ADD or any of that stuff the doctors are making up these days which parents are using as an excuse for their badly behaving kids."
This message is for you, Momma and Dad who may have thought something similar to the above sentence.
This message is for you, yes, and it is for me, the me I was a mere year ago...
"Okay, this is a battle of wills. I'm the parent. I have control. I am going to win. I'll do this all day, if I have to."
This sentence burned in my mind's eye as sweat beaded across my forehead.
My nose and mouth met the back of my thrashing 2 year old's head.
Screams. Thrashing feet.
I sat on the floor, criss-cross with Emmett in my lap, facing outward. My arms tightly wrapped around his torso, binding his struggling arms.
He was sweating. Crying. Blotchy red face.
A half hour of trying to get him to use a spoon to scoop his yogurt into his own mouth, and I collapsed, crying, sweating, defeated by a two year old who refused to feed himself.
"...it's okay. We'll do this again tomorrow." I breathed.
And we did.
The same thing. A half hour of sweat, tears, thrashing and slung yogurt later, for a week long, and I gave up.
Emmett James, our second son, was newly 2 years old and did not know how to feed himself. Wouldn't even try.
I was pregnant with our third son and I'd decided it was time to stop babying Emmett and make him operate in a way which would make life easier for all parties involved once the new baby was born.
I watched Emmett toddle over to his favorite toy, a matchbox car, lay down, and slowly roll it back and forth in front of his face. Still breathing heavy.
I looked at him, wondering if he was going to be my "problem child", the one I'd really have to "crack the whip" on.
Fast forward through a summer of similar events: Emmett thrashing, falling to the floor, in public, at home, in the parking lot of grocery stores and making a royal scene.
I picked him up one hot day, kissing his feet as I prepared to change his diaper, and I stopped as I noticed three splinters in the bottom of each of his soft baby feet.
He hardly flinched as I dug them out for the next ten minutes.
"He should have been able to feel that." I worried myself.
The next morning I took the first step in the right direction to helping our Emmett.
I called the pediatrician and my husband and I visited, flooding the doctor with questions about Emmett's behavior.
I worried I was being the weak parent. I worried it would appear that Emmett was just using what he knew worked (thrashing fit throwing) in order to get what he wanted.
I was afraid that I was being the Alpha Mom whose kid didn't reach their milestones on the exact hour of the exact day with exact perfection. I was afraid to think the words "special needs".
It was a mere 6 months ago that you might have caught me nodding my head in approval of another mom in a homeschooling group saying, "that kid has a special need for a kick in the pants!"
I'm also wary of the medical field and the overprescribing of medications for every twinge we complain about, and the misdiagnoses of so many children and adults. Coming to the pediatrician to complain like weak parents felt shameful.
But what happened over the next few months opened my eyes in a way that I am now ashamed to say were closed shut, so tightly shut, about children, parenting, and most of all the spectrum of autistic symptoms that are so vast and so unique, it cannot be boxed up and picked out of a crowd.
This is the introduction for a series about Emmett James, who displays signs of Autism.
Some children cannot tell Mom and Dad where it hurts.
Some children cannot tell you they're scared.
Some children cannot say "I love you, Mom."
But they show you. In their own special way. We, the parents in control, don't "spank it out of them". We listen, watch, wait, and we help them live in a world they can grasp.
Welcome to Emmett's Little World.